It Hasn’t Even Snowed Yet…

2015june13garden7…and I’m thinking about spring gardening.  How about you?

While I’m harvesting seeds for next year, pulling out finished plants and even planting fall and winter tolerant vegetables, I’m also starting to think about the spring garden.  Fall is a great time to add compost and soil amendments while you let it rest until spring.  As your compost breaks down, it recharges the soil beneath it with minerals and microorganisms that works it’s way down.  If you till, fall is a great time to plant cover crops that will be tilled into your soil in the spring.   Radish is really popular here.  We were slowly working toward raised beds so that we wouldn’t need to till, but I am starting to consider permanent 30″ flat beds instead.  Still no tilling, but no wood frames to worry about.

Growing up I learned from my grandfather to cover the garden and perennial plants for winter.  For us this meant raking the fall leaves onto the garden and around perennials.  In the spring we would turn them over into the soil.   I still do this, except I am getting13-11-08snowaway from digging or tilling.  Using a mower will shred them nicely, and if you have a bagger you won’t need to rake them.  Some people will cover their gardens/beds with straw or wood chips, still there are some who actually use tarps or other weed barriers.   A little work in the fall will greatly impact your garden in the spring.

 

Fall is also a great time to plan for garden expansions.  Covering areas you want to expand with compost materials and a tarp over the winter will choke out the vegetation under it and make your spring work a little easier.  I have a couple areas I’m considering expanding so I want to get the materials ready.

One area some might forget is cleaning up and caring for your tools.  This might mean things like applying boiled linseed oil to wood handles, sharpening, sanding, oiling metals so they don’t rust.  In the spring they’ll be ready to go when you’re itching to get out into the garden.

IMG_20161230_085416Another great fall prep is writing your thoughts down about this season into your garden journal.  (Of course you have a garden journal…any notebook or notepad will do.)  Give a summary about how things went, what worked well and what didn’t, what improvements or plant varieties you might like to try, weather challenges you had, pest battles, you get the idea.  This are things you can use as you start planning and prepping for next years garden.

A bit of work in the fall will get my spring garden going much quicker when the weather breaks.  I can’t wait!

Job 37:9-10 From its chamber comes the whirlwind, and cold from the scattering winds. By the breath of God ice is given, and the broad waters are frozen fast.

Until next time – live simply and love abundantly!  Grace and peace…

Ann’Re

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5 Favorite YouTube Channels

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I really love YouTube. So many times I’ve need to figure out something and there is always videos on YouTube that have answers.

While I have a channel on YouTube, I don’t use it to make and post my own videos anymore.  It just wasn’t something that works for me.  But I do follow quite a few amazing channels and thought I would share five of my favorites in no particular order or topic.

1. Darci Isabella – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3_A9yDRB1TMyah5CD0TfyQ

She is AMAZING and funny, and inspiring. She has a large family and minimalist lifestyle. As a hoarder (yes, I admit it) I soo, soo want to minimize and she has giving me lots of ideas and encouragement.

2. Townsends (James Townsend & Son)https://www.youtube.com/user/jastownsendandson

They are located near us and I first came across them at a local festival. While I’m not really into reenacting (although I could be persuaded!) I love all the recipes that are shared here, and have tried quiet a few of them. I also really like that videos are presented in 18th century costumes and settings.

3. Our Half Acre Homestead – https://www.youtube.com/user/TheMrsVolfie

Bev is so amazing and has so many helpful videos on all sorts of cooking, canning, crafting, and homesteading topics. She is very real and her videos are quite like you just popped in for a visit.

4. Appalachia’s Homestead with Patara – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXyRtDXzptYN56-UxNhYAbQ

I wish I could harness half her energy. lol I love her! Her channel is full of good and solid information on homesteading and raising animals and I’ve learned and applied so much from her on raising chickens.

5. Starry Hilder Off Grid Homestead – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqTGYxXH21MTYnMoOZGvX6A

While I have learned quite a bit from her, I admit that I just enjoy watching her. She is uplifting and encouraging, and I love seeing how well they live off grid and the beautiful scenery. If I were to live off grid, THIS would be how I would want it.

There you have it. It was hard to pick just five because there are so many great channels I enjoy including John Suscovich, Growning Your Greens, The Boss of the Swamp, One Yard Revolution, and one of my newest favorites Sounds Like Reign.

I hope you’ll check them out and let me know what you think. I’d also love to hear what some of your favorite YouTube channels are or even if you have your own channel, maybe it’ll become my new favorite!

Until next time – live simply and love abundantly!  Grace and peace…

Ann’Re

It’s Fall Ya’ll!

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Trying to enjoy the fall weather here @Home and spending time out in the woods before the cold sets in.

treesinwoodsroadWe went out this past weekend and even though it was spitting rain, we got out into nature to get some fresh air and exercise. The weather has been warmer than normal lately so it’s been easy to get out and enjoy it.

The leaves are just starting to change here in Northern Indiana. You never know how they are going to be until you are in the midst of full color. A couple years ago the leaves went from green to brown and totally skipped the color. One year we had the most amazing color changes I had ever seen. It’s my favorite time of year and I’m always eager to see fall how ever it comes.

How are you spending your time these days? Comment below and let me know, I’d love to hear from you!

He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper. Psalm 1:3

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Until next time – live simply and love abundantly!  Grace and peace…

Ann’Re

Planning Long Term

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Grandma and Grandpa

I see a lot of people taking the plunge and moving to homesteads, going off grid, and generally moving to more sustainable, self sufficient living.  There are lots of benefits to these lifestyles that far out weigh the negative.

What some people don’t realize is that there can be a lot of hard work attached to these ways of living.  I wonder if these people who say they are in it for the long haul are just living day to day or are they really considering the long term?

My birthday is right around the corner.  It’s a big one.  A lot of the things we had hoped to do are starting to fade.  I am finding out now that my bad joint pain can be limiting.  The heat and humidity in the summer send my asthma into attacks.  While I consider myself in pretty good shape for approaching AARP age, I have to face the fact that I’m not a young anymore.  While I’m not yet out to pasture, now is the time to set things into motion that will make those years easier.

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Me with Hubb

We actually started thinking about it when we bought our house 12 years ago.
While we didn’t mind having a basement, we wanted a ranch style home so that if this is our final home we won’t have to worry about getting around it when we’re older.  This was important because we had seen older family members who were having a hard time with stairs including one who fell down a flight of basement stairs.  If we move, we will again look for something that will take us comfortable into our older years.  So, while we don’t want to limit ourselves, we also don’t want to make things harder down the road.  It takes thoughtful planning.  Gardening, raising animals, caring for the home and property…how will you handle these things in your older years? For example:  chopping all your firewood by hand isn’t as easy at 70 years old as it is for a 40 year old.

20141028_081817I know many of us are optimistic about these things in our later years.  “Oh, we’ll manage.”  Will you?  Even the average American lifestyle is challenging to the aged.  I’m not aged (*sigh*) and I have a hard time opening jars and bottles due to the joint pain in my hands.  I wonder how this will effect my gardening and canning?  How will this effect my butchering meat?  How will this effect my crochet business?

Have you thought about it?  Now is the time to plan and put things into place for your lifestyle long term that will make your older years easier.  It’s much easier to do it now while you are able than to wait until the day you find you can’t.

Until next time – live simply and love abundantly!  Grace and peace…

Ann’Re

Prepper? Homesteader? Survivalist? Other?

2016Aug25Chickens“You’re NOT a homesteader!!”

Yes, I’ve heard that and no, I’m not.  I don’t fit into the homesteader mold nor do I fit the prepper or survivalist molds either.

While many things I do are popular in these lifestyles, I don’t really fit the mold.  I have a totally different philosophy and goal than most others.

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Making slippers for Christmas gifts,  just like mama did.

I’ve always been on the frugal side.  Sometimes more frugal, sometimes less.  Much of what I do is just what I had learned growing up.  I’ve always been interested in the outdoors, gardening, camping, hiking, farming etc.  Growing up in the city didn’t give me many opportunities for them, but I really enjoyed any chance to be outside with nature and camping/hiking became and still is one of my favorite activities.

 

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Celebrating my birthday with my great-grandmother…a homemade cake and homemade party hats.

I heartily understand the philosophy behind prepping and I agree with most of it.  I don’t feel like I need to live barricaded in militarized zone with 30 years of food and supplies put up in my hidden armored bunker.  If you do, that’s fine.  I do feel, however, that as the manager of my home I need to be as prepared as possible to care for my family in what ever situation comes our way.  We live in crazy, fragile times.  But I firmly believe that the extreme form of prepping goes against what the Bible teaches.  The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, to take care of the orphans and widows, feed the hungry, visit prisoners.  It doesn’t say only do these things when times are good and stop when “stuff” hits the fan.  I will do my best for my family, but together we serve God first.

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Canning grape jam.

There are so many ideas of what a homesteader is. To some it’s living completely off grid and to others it is simply adopting a more self sufficient lifestyle where ever you might be at.  Living off the land is hard, hard work, but can also be rewarding.  We live in a small town on a small lot, and while I do a lot of things that homesteaders do, I wouldn’t classify myself as a homesteader.  But again, a lot of these things I do I learned growing up.  For example: I learned gardening…organic gardening…from my grandfather.  In the big city.  I learned to make things by hand from my mother and great-grandmother.   I learned to be frugal from my grandmother…like using old clothing (read: underwear) to mop the floors and putting left over bread that is starting to stale in the freezer to use in the future for stuffing.  When I moved out on my own, I appreciated the farmers market that was right across the street, and I found out first hand how practical being frugal was.

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The garden goes all the way to the wood fence.

All these things became very real for our family when my husband lost his job a while back.  This area of Indiana suffered a great blow with many automotive, trailer and RV manufacturers laying people off or closing.  Hubby’s company closed and sent the work elsewhere.  Not being burdened by lots of debt and having a well stocked pantry with a garden got us through the hard times when many others were going under.  Not only were we able to keep our heads above water, but we didn’t have to rely on any assistance, food or utility programs.  And even then, we were able to help out others when they needed it.  I’m not saying it didn’t hit us hard because it did.  Only now are we starting to get caught up on things that we had to put off during that time (like getting our roof fixed, replacing appliances that stopped working etc.)  But being frugal, prepared and doing as much with our land as we could, we made it through when many others didn’t.

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Curing onions in the garage.

So I guess you can classify me under what ever category you would like.  I’m not prepping for any zombie apocalypse, but for real life circumstances for my family and those around me.  I’m not living on an off grid homestead with livestock, but we are trying to live more sustainable where we are.  If you asked me what I would call it…I guess I would call it living Proverbs 31.  I’m a homemaker.  Regardless of what circumstances arise, my main responsibility is to God first, then my family and my home, and then helping others as I can.

What about you?  Do you fit the mold or are you an outlier like me?

Until next time – live simply and love abundantly!  Grace and peace…

Ann’Re

Matthew 25:34-40 – Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

Catching Up

Since my blog posting has been sporadic over the past year I thought I would do a brief update and catch everyone up on what has been going on here @ home.  I did post more regularly on my Instagram and my Facebook page, I hope you’ll check them out.

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My husband’s cousin and her children.

Last year was really busy with all sorts of things: family, health, home, schooling etc. We had several family members going through various trials, one of the biggest was the loss of hubby’s cousin to ovarian cancer. Such a beautiful woman lost too early to a cancer that there isn’t much awareness for. She had been going to doctors for a year trying to find out what was going on before she was diagnosed. We are heartbroken, continuing to pray for her children and family as they learn to live without her. My own health has been an issue over the past year, mainly my asthma. I have had asthma since I was a young child and this past fall was probably the worst it’s ever been, and making some drastic dietary and supplement changes have helped dramatically. The main change for me was getting serious about eliminating dairy. We have also worked on filtering the air better to help keep the dust down.

Our home has so many projects going on, but when money is tight you have to be selective on what gets done and what gets put off. We still don’t have a working dryer but we took advantage of the mild winter we had used the clothes line when we could. Those times where we couldn’t we could haul laundry to the local laundromat. I don’t mind hanging the clothes up, but the challenge was trying not to trigger an asthma attack while doing it. This summer we are hoping to get some painting done, replace several windows and our doorwall, get our rain barrels going again, and more. We’ll see how the budget shakes out as to how far we get.

Our internet was cut. This was a HUGE adjustment. I didn’t realize how dependent I was on it and that made me uncomfortable. While I do want to be connected, I don’t want to be dependent. I’m not able to keep up with blogs and channels as much as I used to, but I am now spending more time reading real books. Cutting the internet and land line was a big help to our budget. Having the cell phones with limited data has been great overall and I’m not really sure if we’ll go back to having internet.

Noah

Homeschool Senior

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Class of 2017

Homeschooling has been bitter sweet. This is our last year of homeschooling. Our son will graduate shortly. This past year has been full of wrapping up one journey and preparing for another. It’s hard for me to believe that I did it…I homeschooled him from kindergarten right through to graduation. He’s looking forward to pursuing a career in Information Security and I’m excited to see him spread his wings. Bitter sweet. Mama loves her baby.

weedsWe had so much going on last year we never got around to getting the garden started, so we left it fallow. This year it is overgrown and needs a good taming. While we are a little behind in getting that part done, all the raised beds are planted and growing. Not everything is heirloom this year, but I am looking forward to growing, harvesting and preserving what we do grow.

Our Daisy dog is now a year old. What a challenge and a joy she has been. She is such a sweet dog, but she is just full of energy it is hard to keep up. daisyTennis balls are her absolute favorite toy and she loves to have you throw them for her. She still chases the chickens once in a while, but she is learning. Pepper dog is quite protective of them and Daisy is slowly learning from her. Unlike Pepper, we haven’t done a good job of socializing Daisy with people and we do have to work on that. I’m happy to accept any tips for that.

The pantry. Pretty empty. We did stock with some store bought food, but we miss our home canned food. My first canning of the year was some pork we got on sale. I’m hoping to get things like beans done now before things get busy and the weather gets warm.

beadsMy Etsy shop has been opened about a year now and it is nice to have an opportunity to share my hobby with others. I really enjoy doing craft shows and art fairs, but they are a lot of work and take a lot of time. While I miss meeting the people at the shows, it has been fun to send my work off to people far away…even as far as Australia.

Hope you enjoyed this highlight. I’m off to get laundry going. I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to. Feel free to comment and let me know, or share a link to a blog post.

Until next time – live simply and love abundantly!  Grace and peace…

Ann’Re

Farmer’s Markets

I have always had a love for farmer’s markets since I moved into my first apartment. It was a small studio apartment that was directly across the street from the city’s farmer’s market. Not only could I see and hear the weekend busyness of this big city market from my main street windows, but all I had to do was walk yards across the street to experience it. This city girl was hooked.

Now I’m living out in farm country and I’m thinking about selling at a farmer’s market. We have small farmer’s market here locally which has a nice mix of local farmers, Amish and a few artisans. I have always thought it was interesting that in a rural area such as ours farmer’s markets are so small. The average I’ve seen at the handful of markets around us is about 15-ish local sellers and their produce selections are usually small. I think part of the reason for this may be the local flea market (which is huge but only open during the week), but even the produce sellers there are very few compared to the artisans and antiques. I think another may be local tourist markets that sell produce that is sold farm stand style but with commercial produce.

Despite that, the small local farmer’s markets do get a good bit of local traffic. I have been considering whether to join for the past year and I think I am going to do it. I plan on selling mostly greens such as lettuces and spinach, and doing some bread baking. These are two areas that I enjoy and that I don’t see a lot of people there selling. The Amish that do offer baked goods sell mostly cookies and pies. I also may take some of my crochet items like dish cloths and market bags.

I have researched our state laws and the cottage laws and I am comfortable with my plans. The farmer’s market I’m planning to join has a very reasonable yearly fee and runs two days each week. While I hope this venture will be financially profitable, I hope even more to connect with people and promote buying local.

Do you shop farmers markets? What brings you back? Are you a seller at farmers markets? What do you sell and what do you enjoy about it? I’d love to hear from you! You can answer in the comments below or post a link to a post you’ve written about it.

Until next time – live simply and love abundantly!  Grace and peace…

Ann’Re